American Friends of Ateret Cohanim
Ateret Cohanim is a non-profit organization located in Jerusalem, Israel. It was established during the Festival of Chanukah 31 years ago by Matityahu HaCohen Dan, a young, idealistic veteran of the Israel Defense Forces. The aim of Ateret Cohanim was and still is to fulfil a generations old dream of rebuilding & securing a United Jerusalem, strengthening our Jewish roots and reestablishing thriving Jewish communities that are centred around educational institutes in and around the Old City of Jerusalem.
Due to the efforts and achievements of Ateret Cohanim in Jerusalem and the tireless dedication of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, (also known as “Jerusalem Chai” and Jerusalem Reclamation Project), located in New York City, there is once again a Jewish presence in the Kotel Quarter (known also as the Moslem and Christian Quarters). Today there is a wonderous Jewish neighborhood on the Mount of Olives (Maaleh HaZeitim) and more recently Ateret Cohanim has established a foothold in both the Village of Shiloach (Kfar Hateimanim) with a Kolel and 8 Jewish families and students and in Kidmat Zion (Abu Dis) with 6 Rabbinical families. No small part of Ateret Cohanim’s success is due to the pioneering spirit of our ideologically motivated families.
Today, there are over 60 Jewish families, hundreds of children, play centers,Yeshivot,
and Synagogues in the area close to the Temple Mount area. This is a small but flourishing Jewish community in the Old City of Jerusalem which one time had been the hub of Jewish life and activity up until the riots and pogroms of the 1920’s, 30’s and the War of Independence in 1948. A thriving Jewish community and a pulsating Jewish life was found throughout the areas that are known today as the Moslem and Christian Quarters (in fact, a Jewish majority existed in the Old City from the 1850s until the rioting in the early 20th century). Unfortunately, Arab hatred and the decision by the British to divide the Old City left us with a tiny portion of our Holy City. The glorious victory in the Six Day War in 1967 and our return to the Old City facilitated the building of a beautiful Jewish Quarter (13% of area). Yet we are still a minority in “Our Jerusalem”. We are back home, but a lot of work needs to be done.
Slowly but surely we are returning to all parts of “Our Jerusalem”. Ateret Cohanim is responsible for bringing back Jewish life to the heart of Jerusalem. Just as the JNF has reclaimed land over the years throughout Israel, Ateret Cohanim redeems the land in and around the walled Old City. Private investors purchase previously owned Jewish buildings or buy long term tenancy rights. Ateret Cohanim establishes educational centers, helps to rennovate old buildings, installs and maintains security systems and initiates other Jewish educational projects in an effort to revitalize this important area and have a greater Jewish presence in and around the Old City.
Ateret Cohanim has successfully rekindled the flame of Jewish life in the heart and soul of Jerusalem. It has managed to bring back to the Old City and it’s environs a number of Yeshivot – Institutes of Higher Jewish learning - which in turn has ensured a vibrant & thriving Jewish life. These educational institutions mean that Rabbis, teachers, and their respective families reside in the area; children centers are full; rooftops have been made into playgrounds; buildings have been converted to student dormitories; and Synagogues are once again seen throughout the Old City and the neighborhoods near the Temple Mount, the City of David and the Mount of Olives.
Ateret Cohanim - the Jerusalem Reclamation Project - will continue to strengthen Jewish roots of the Old City and it’s environs through peaceful, tactful and legal methods. This redemption and rebuilding of Jerusalem, however, should not – and cannot - be the sole responsibility of Ateret Cohanim. We believe that the Jewish world (communities, organizations, Rabbis, leaders, Jewish individuals) should stand behind this vital project of securing and rebuilding a Jewish Jerusalem. In fact, all those in the world at large who believe in the unbreakable bond between Jerusalem and the Jewish People should also be supporting pillars.
Jerusalem belongs to every single Jew, wherever he or she may live. We, therefore, call upon each and every one of you to pray for the safety and unity of Jerusalem and to support the rebuilding of Jewish life within a “Holy and Eternal United Jerusalem”.
May Am Yisrael and the nations of the world be showered with Blessings from the Almighty.
Please be our partners in the historic rebuilding of Jerusalem !!
Jerusalem Chai – Jerusalem Lives
Matityahu HaCohen Dan
Founder and Chairman, Ateret Cohanim
Executive Director, Ateret Cohanim
Shoshana Hikind, Executive Vice-President,
American Friends of Ateret Cohanim